Have you ever wanted to learn the skill of metal fabrication. I often fantasized about being able to make cool art with pieces of metal . But it was not to be, I have never learned the skill to make this dream come true. If your interested in working with metal fabrication read on to learn a little about the skill. There are so many terms and different process that make up this art. This is just a little teaser, if this article inspires you try finding a class to get the practice that you will need to be proficient. 

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Image by Dmitrii Bardadim for Pixabay

What is sheet metal fabrication?

Sheet metal fabrication is the process involved in cutting and bending sheets of metal to form different shapes. It is more cost-effective than CNC machining when it comes to metal components with uniform wall thickness. To create durable parts you need to follow exact guidelines that meet your design requirements:

Wall Thickness

Sheet metal parts are made from a single sheet of material, so a uniform wall thickness should be maintained through the entire design. If a unique wall thickness is required, a separate part should be designed.

Bends

When designing bends, engineers should consider the ease of the manufacturing process. Bends along the same plane should be in the same direction so that the object doesn’t need to be reoriented midway through production. A uniform bend radius will also reduce production costs since the machine will not need to be reprogrammed to complete the remaining bends. Remember that the bend radius’s should be at least as wide as the thickness of the sheet metal.

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Image by Laurent Schmidt by Pixabay

Curls

Holes and other design features should be an adequate distance away from any curls. In general, the outer curl radius should be twice the thickness of the sheet metal. Holes should be placed outside of this radius with an additional distance equal to the metal’s thickness. Bends should have an additional distance of six times the metal’s thickness.

Countersinks

As a general rule, a countersink should be placed three times the metal’s thickness away from any bends and four times the thickness away from edges. Countersinks should always be at least eight thicknesses away from each other.

Hems

Hems, or the folded edges of a part, should always have an inside diameter of at least the thickness of the sheet metal. Folded or tear-dropped hems need an additional diameter; openings should be at least one-quarter of the metal’s thickness, and return lengths should be at least four times the thickness.

 

Holes and Slots

Holes, slots, and similar features should never be placed too close to an edge or bend. Leave at least twice the metal’s thickness away from edges. Holes need to be at least two and a half times the material’s thickness away from bends, and slots need to be at least four times the thickness.

Notches and Tabs

All notches need to be at least one-eighth of an inch apart, regardless of the material thickness. Notches should also be placed at least three times the thickness away from bends, not counting the bend radius. Notches generally need to be one millimeter thick or greater.

Tabs should be either the metal’s thickness or one millimeter in distance from each other, depending on which value is greater. Tabs cannot be longer than five times their width, and they must be as thick as either 3.2 millimeters or twice the material thickness.

Corner Fillets and Relief Cuts

Relief cuts are necessary to avoid parts from tearing at bends. Relief cuts should be at least as long as the metal’s thickness; they should also be longer than the bend radius.

Although sharp corners are possible with sheet metal fabrication, rounded corners or small fillets will help decrease the cost of production. Fillets should be half of the material’s thickness.

Create metal products with custom sheet metal fabrication

Sheet metal is an easy way to create durable metal parts and objects. This process can be used to create automotive parts, dies for injection molding quotes, metal containers, and nearly any other type of metal object.